Sometimes, green tomatoes will fall off the vine or be pulled off in the process of harvesting ripe red tomatoes. And sometimes you need to harvest all the potentially edible green tomatoes before first frost kills everything. So if you have lots of tomatoes left on the vine, but all of them are nowhere near red, and you’ve already made all the fried green tomatoes you can handle, you may be wondering, can I speed up the ripening process?
The short answer is, yes you can!
You may wonder, do you need a specific temperature? Nope.
Do you need special equipment? Nope.
Do you need the whole plant? Nope again.
There are two ways to go about this that I have tried with great success. The first way is to wrap the tomatoes in newspaper, then place in a paper bag with an apple or two. Apples give off ethylene gas, which causes fruits and plants to ripen (and at too high concentrations, to die).
This is also why you should not store apples & bananas next to each other, as the apples will cause the bananas to ripen more quickly as well. Unless your bananas are green and you want to eat them immediately, then by all means, use the apple trick.
The second method, which the writer of InMyKitchenGarden agrees is far easier and does indeed work, is to bring them inside and simply set them on the counter until ripe.
Yup. Just like that. Done.
You may of course lose one or two to rotting, and they may dry out a bit the longer you leave them, but that’s okay. Older home-grown tomatoes are still far better than no tomatoes, and sure will be better than anything you can buy at the store months from now.
Since in Connecticut, first frost is predicted for this Sunday (heads up to anyone who hasn’t heard!) I will be out in the garden Friday or Saturday, loading up on anything larger than a marble to bring inside. A few will become fried green tomatoes (which I have totally fallen in love with!), another handful I’ll put some into paper bags, and others I’ll simply leave in a basket on the counter.
Then you can enjoy your green tomatoes through their various stages of ripening for weeks, and possibly months, to come. The speed at which they ripen will depend upon how close to ripe they were when picked, the temperature of your house, humidity levels, etc. and could take from a few days to a month or more.
As long as they aren’t mushy, liquid, or covered in black or white spots, they are still safe to eat. And if by chance they aren’t very pretty by the time they are red (or pink/orange/yellow) then you can try canning sauce from them, or oven drying them, and then cosmetics won’t matter.
Now go get those green tomatoes before Jack Frost does!